IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Tower tenants: Summer not reliable enough for heating switch-off

Residents of 19-storey Clerkenwell block set to challenge the council as communal heating is lost in ‘non-existent British summer’

03 July, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Susie Luke inside her home on the top floor of 19-storey Braithwaite House

TOWER block tenants say they feel like they have been “left to freeze” by the council as their communal heating is turned off for the summer.

Susie Luke, who lives on the top floor of the 19-storey Braithwaite House in Clerkenwell, said a group of about 30 tenants are banding together to challenge the council on why they have their heating switched off for a “non-existent British summer”.

Vulnerable and elderly residents say they have been left to shiver after the communal heating was turned off on May 28.

They were given a small fan heater, “which could barely dry a sock”, by the council as compensation, Ms Luke added.

The mother-of-one told the Tribune: “We have been complaining about this forever and nothing gets heard, nothing gets done. They’ve left us to freeze.

“We keep hearing it is their policy so it has to be done, well why can’t they change the policy? The cold temperature this week proves that there is no such thing as a British summer time. There are older people here and sick people, who need heating at this time. Why is Islington Council ignoring us?”

The communal heating is turned off until September 15.

Ms Luke added: “This little fan heater they have offered is laughable. It could barely dry a sock. Then the electricity bill spikes whenever these are used.

“I can’t stand it when the council talks to me about fuel poverty when they are forcing us into fuel poverty with this.”

The council claims that there was a survey in 2015 but one elderly resident, who has lived in the block for 15 years who didn’t want to be named, said she has asked the council for more details on this as nobody she has spoken to seems to remember a consultation.

“In view of the new unprecedented circumstances, many families and vulnerable people need to spend more time at home,” she said.

“This means that during inclement weather they have to endure the cold.”

An Islington Council spokesman said: “Many of the council’s homes receive heat and hot water from communal boilers. The steady supply of heat is an efficient way of keeping homes warm and dry. It is important to us to have the most efficient source of heating possible to keep residents’ bills down and as part of our commitment to reducing CO2 emissions.

“Communal heating systems are switched on in mid-September and switched off in late May each year. Residents were consulted on the heating season and heating charges in May 2015 and they receive a letter to remind them of switch-on and switch-off dates every year.”

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